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Class Claims Filed Against CNN Alleging Racial Discrimination

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

On December 7, 2016, a group of former and current African American employees of Time Warner Inc. and its subsidiaries, CNN and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., filed a class-action lawsuit against the companies alleging racial discrimination. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, is largely the result of information revealed in an internal Human Resources Diversity Trends Report.

According to the complaint, Plaintiffs allege the report revealed that African American men received the lowest ratings on performance reviews. The report further revealed that upper management in the defendant companies is significantly less diverse than the rest of the employee base. And while the complaint notes that the companies have recently been making more of a concerted effort to diversify, Plaintiffs allege that, once hired, it is incredibly difficult for African American employees to internally advance. Plaintiffs argue that while newly-hired African American employees face difficulty advancing in the companies, white employees are able to advance quickly and with ease.

 Named plaintiff, Celeslie Henley, contends that while employed as an administrative assistant at CNN, she was required to work 12- to 13-hour shifts, while her white co-workers were only required to work eight-hour shifts. Henley alleges that when she complained to the human resources department about unreasonable hours, she was fired. Similarly, fellow named plaintiff, Ernest Cobert, argues that for 19 years he worked twice as hard at his job than his white co-workers while being paid thousands of dollars less.

Thus far, the defendant companies have yet to respond to the class claim.

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